Sunday 8th March
It's 2:30pm. I park the car in a loading bay, get out of the car, lock it and walk over to Caffe Nero in Altrincham town centre. I go inside the café and Marko arrives.
Me: "Hi, how's it going?"
Marko: "Good. Where are we going?"
Me: "We can go around Altrincham then go to a bar."
Marko: "Do you want to go to the Woodstock in Didsbury?"
Me: "It's a long way and I've got to leave at 5pm."
It's 1:55pm by now.
We discuss what to do then decide to stay in Altrincham.
We walk along the main street through Altrincham while talking about what we've done during the week.
We go into River Island.
Marko: "I've been looking at leather jackets. Topman in Manchester has some for £120. It's a good price."
We leave River Island and go into New Look.
Marko: "New Look, you look good but need a new look."
Me: "Why even bother leaving the store when you can keep changing in the changing room, people change their style so often."
I notice a lady wearing very fashionable clothes and high heels making her over 6ft tall. She turns around and it's someone I used to date years ago.
Her: "Hello, how are you?"
Me: "Good thanks, what are you up to?"
Her: "I'm trying clothes on then going shopping to Marks and Spencer later."
Me: "Sunday's a nice day to go around the shops."
Me: "How is the fashion going?"
Her: "It's not, the way business is going now." she means the recession.
Me: "You're not doing it at all?"
Her: "What it comes down to is do you want to have fun and enjoy life. If I wait until I'm 40 to make money then I won't have enjoyed myself."
Me: "You can enjoy the journey being creative and designing clothes."
Her: "Yes but it's hard to sell them."
Me: "All you need is a bit of promotion, it's not a big deal."
Her: "Promotion costs money
Me: "You can do low cost promotion. You can't give up now."
Her: "Yes well everyone's finding it hard."
Me: "You've been speaking to too many negative people. Lots of people say it's hard and you can start telling yourself that it's hard for everyone and if no-one does anything it's ok."
Her: "Maybe you're right."
Me: "You've already made the designs and done all the work. It's like me writing, only lately did I realise that not many people have the skill to write. We went to a good school and most people could write so I didn't notice then. You've got the skill to make and design fashions and not a lot of people have that skill."
Me: "Don't watch TV, don't use the internet, listen to a positive 80's cassette in the morning at 10:30am and enjoy having listened to the music for half an hour throughout the day. A lot of people have the radio on all day and with songs like Pink crying about her husband and James Blunt, it makes you feel bad."
Her: "But how do you know what's going on?"
Me: "Do your own thing, that's what's going on on in your life."
Marko: "You don't have to not read newspapers or watch TV altogether. You can not bombard yourself with it for hours every day and still keep up to date."
We talk about business for a few minutes and I encourage her to do well for herself then we're saying:
Her: "It's ok for you, you've always got lots of self confidence. Maybe I could do with a boost to my self esteem."
Me: "I was thinking of running a club night, you could get some promotion there."
Her: "Where, in Altrincham?"
Me: "At a bar in Goose Green, the place that used to be the Shaker Room."
Her: "That's a small place."
Me: "If it's done well it will become very popular then grow from there."
Me: "I've also got a big project I'm working on and I want some people to look at it. Is your number still the same?"
Her: "It might be, I've got two mobiles, you've got my home number as well so give me a call."
Me: "Ok, see you later."
One of her relatives is here in the shop with her and was browsing clothes so we'll talk in depth another time. They leave the shop.
Marko: "How do you know her?"
Me: "I used to date her a long time ago."
Marko: "You dated her! She's nice and comes across very well, she's very with it."
Me and Marko talk, go to my car and drive to Bowdon. We park the car in the Griffin car park and go inside the pub.
At the Griffin we order chips with cheese and I drink a mineral water. I was out drinking beer last night so I don't feel like any today.
Next we go to the Stamford which is next door to the Griffin. It's nice in here – a traditional pub.
We leave the Stamford and take a look at the bar area in Swadesh. It's an Indian bar-restaurant also in Bowdon.
We go to the car and drive around for a bit. I decide to stop at The Grammar – a new sports centre – to see what's on in terms of martial arts and fitness classes. We go inside. I pick up a leaflet and we sit down in the café here.
Marko: "There's not much going on in here."
Me: "It's a café, what more do you want on a Sunday afternoon."
Marko: "I don't know."
Me: "We can go somewhere else."
We walk outside and are going across the car park.
Me: "That's the problem with people nowadays, they spend so much time on the internet, texting and celebrity magazines that they can't think. They have no concept of time that Saturday night is for clubbing, the week is for career. Instead they get edgy if they haven't got something to look up or do. When I'm sitting in a café having a conversation with you I'm often thinking about lots of other things – the project I'm working on, how I've got to get an ISBN for my book and lots of things."
Me: "Yes. Planning what I'm going to do and considering what I've done."
We get in the car and drive just around the corner and down the road towards Bowdon Hockey and Cricket Club.
Marko: "Wow look at the size of the houses."
He's commenting on a house the footballer Teddy Sheringham used to live in when he played at Manchester United.
I park the car in the grounds of Bowdon Hockey and Cricket Club and we go inside to the bar.
It's a nice venue here, I was going to run a business event not far from here in a deal I had with Phil. Phil became unemployed with the credit crunch. He always wanted the experience of running a business. I said to him that I used to run business events and if he wanted to do them together, I have the invite list and website still online to start it up again. The deal was that he'd do the inviting and marketing. I'd fund it, arrange the venue and entertainment. He was really happy and up for it. I started looking forward to it. Then 2 weeks after he said he'd do it, he was offered a full time job and he didn't have time to do it. I'm glad that it won't be going ahead now because I need to focus on my writing, not a side project to help someone out.
Jackson was saying how the friendship changed to a business relationship so the way he is with me changed. I accept that Phil has been working towards his goal of accountancy and now with a full-time job hasn't got the time or needs to do the events. He should have sent a gift of apology such as a few crates of wine or a hamper. In this case there was no big apology, only a sorry. To be fair maybe I don't know Phil that well today. We were friends 5 years ago. Also I was told by one of his friends that some of his family and friends persuaded him not to do business, as he's better off with security than running a business.
So I'm at Bowdon Hockey, Cricket and Squash club with Marko and we're right in the Cheshire Set region. There's two guys and a lady at the bar, in Cheshire set nouveaux riche style one of the guys is talking very loudly saying
Guy 1: "A few years out of university he went to America and was earning with bonuses a million dollars a year!"
He even raised his voice when he said – million dollars – so everyone would look around.
Lady: "He bought a nice house just down the road."
Guy 1: "I know, we did the building work on that."
The Cheshire Set used to be nice middle class people but the newcomers have made it tacky. They put on an act to sound like the footballers wives programmes and comedy shows on TV, but they don't realise it was comedy that they're copying.
People start filing into the bar and sitting down facing what looks like a stage area. Over 100 people are here now with more and more arriving. We're wondering what's going on.
Marko: "What's happening?"
Me: "I don't know, maybe there's a show."
A group of female hockey players come in and everyone is clapping and cheering. There's a guy with a microphone who says:
Him: "Bowdon Hockey Club have now played 15 games and won 15 games. They've won the national championship with 4 games to go. And here today to present the trophy is the England hockey coach."
There's a great atmosphere here and everyone is cheering and celebrating. The team captain gives a speech about how they're going to look forward to playing in European competitions and thanks the fans.
Marko: "Shall we go."
We go outside and walk over to the car.
Me: "It would have been good to watch the game earlier."
Marko: "Yes. Maybe we could have stayed a bit longer."
Me: "You wanted to go."
Marko: "Yes but…."
Me: "Shall we go back?"
Marko: "No, lets go."
We get into the car.
Marko: "What's up?"
Me: "I've got to get going in half an hour. And seeing people win and have success like that. I'm happy for them. But sometimes you wonder if it makes you feel worse."
Marko: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Because you never know when you'll see success like that again. It's a reminder of how things can be, but it could be a year or two before seeing people that happy again."
It gets me thinking how even going out on a Friday night used to be a celebration of our lives, now all people do is complain.
We drive to Altrincham centre and go inside Caffe Nero. I'm saying
Me: "Like we say people are always searching nowadays."
Marko: "Always searching searching."
Me: "When I'm surrounded by people with this searching attitude it makes me look bad. On a night out they're always searching and not enjoying the moment. Sometimes I feel like saying – what do you want from me!? On a night out I should be like – you'll do this and this and enjoy the night out whether you like it or not. Nights out aren't for complaining, they're to enjoy yourself!"
Summary and venue reviews: Sunday 8th March
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Notes: A town south of Manchester.
New Look in Altrincham
Not busy. Clientele: shoppers. Decor: 6/10.
Notes: A value for money clothes store.
New Look Altrincham
The Griffin pub
Not very busy. Clientele: locals. Decor: 3/10.
Notes: The venue isn't kept clean properly. Overuse of D10 antibacterial spray so the whole place smells of disinfectant.
The Griffin pub
The Stamford pub
Quiet. Clientele: locals. Decor: 8/10.
Notes: A traditional pub with good service.
Stamford pub Altrincham
Empty. Decor: 10/10.
Notes: An indian restaurant and bar with very nice decor.
Quiet. Decor: 5/10.
Notes: A sports centre and cafe.
Bowdon cricket, hockey and squash club
Very busy. Clientele: hockey fans and England hockey coach. Decor: 6/10.
Bowdon cricket, hockey and squash club
Caffe Nero Altrincham
Quiet. Clientele: smart casual. Decor: 9/10.
Caffe Nero Altrincham